Nissan’s motorsport and performance vehicle division Nismo is leading the development of the next-generation GT-R ‘Godzilla’ super-coupe due in 2016.
The move is a fundamental change from the development process of the current R35 GT-R, which was created in a quarantined area of Nissan’s road car engineering division by GT-R ‘godfather’ Kazutoshi Mizuno.
Mizuno has only recently left Nissan, partly because he had reached retirement age but also – as Peter Lyon reported on motoring.coma.au recently – because of dissatisfaction with Nismo’s increasing stake in GT-R.
Nismo is in the final stages of developing a new flagship version of the current GT-R, which will debut at next month’s Tokyo motor show. That car has been filmed testing at the Nurburgring and is expected to take the twin-turbo V6 all-wheel drive R35’s performance to an unprecedented levels. A 0-100km/h time well below three seconds is mooted.
However, leading the next-gen GT-R project is a big step up in responsibility and is the most obvious sign yet of Nismo’s emergence and evolution into a true hot shop with fundamental vehicle development ability.
“As we come to the next generation of GT-R – because that will be a brand-new vehicle – you will probably see a lead coming from Nismo and a follow coming from the passenger car company, rather than the other way round,” Nissan Executive Vice-President and global product planning boss Andy Palmer told motoring.com.au.
“The way we sell Nismo cars in Japan and Europe is they are sold through the Nismo Performance Centres,” Palmer added. “GT-R is exclusively sold through those centres.
“So GT-R is somewhat the halo car of Nismo, so it is natural that they would lead the development of that in future.”
Nismo taking the lead also makes sense because it designs a group of racing cars from the GT-R, including GT3, the now-defunct GT1 and Japanese Super GT versions. Incorporating that planning into the new car from day one is logical.
“You build that racing credibility from the very beginning,” said Palmer.
Nissan-Renault boss Carlos Ghosn opened Nismo’s new Yokohama base last February and revealed the intention for it to become a much more serious player in the performance car market.
The uprating of its ambition has been underlined by a series of Nismo-developed Nissans, which include the Juke, Japan-only March (nee Micra) and 370Z. It will show off the more highly-modified Juke RS at the Los Angeles show next month.
The current Nissan Power 88 mid-term plan calls from Nismo to launch one new car annually.
There is strong speculation the next GT-R will be a hybrid, reflecting Nissan’s commitment to electric drive. It plans to have 15 hybrids in its line-up by 2016, including plug-ins.
Nismo has announced an alliance with Williams Advanced Engineering to develop its new vehicle line. This is a separate division from the struggling Formula One team and recently gained attention for its involvement in the stillborn Jaguar C-X75 supercar.
It is understood to have advised on the aerodynamics of the R35 GT-R Nismo but will be more extensively involved in the next-generation car and other new Nismo models rolling out from 2014.
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